Northernheckler's Blog

A Yorkshireman's adventures in the big Smoke

All to fight for in the General Election

I read this piece on the Tory Radio blog last night : Labour giving up on being able to form a majority , produced in response to what editor Jonathon Sheppard (I’m assuming it’s him) called a “Labour reaction of glee” to the news that the newly published ComRes Poll in the Sunday Mirror : POLL EXCLUSIVE: David Cameron’s down again , was predicted to lead to a hung parliament, with the Conservatives 5 seats shy of a majority, in the next general election (Predictions from polls are hit & miss affairs by the way – but lots of fun – try Electoral Calculus to have a play around with some figures).

Well although I found the tone of the article to be childish and sneering, one does have to ask – why get so excited about the prospect of scraping a near draw ?

I feel that there are two reasons – and I look to the example of Tory ex-Prime Minister John Major for both.

John fought two general elections as Prime Minister. Let’s take the later one – the one where he was defeated – first. Major’s position before and as a result of that election, represents the doomsday scenario for any political party. Unpopular as his government had become, as the election loomed it became more and more difficult to salvage anything for his party. Like an aeroplane in free-fall, there came a point where it was impossible to pull out of the dive, and all that he could do was wait for the crash. When it came it provided Labour with possibly their most staggering victory ever – winning seats in places which had hitherto been considered untouchable.

Back last year at the time of the European elections, that was a scenario being painted by many for Labour – in third place in many areas, losing ground to fringe parties as well as established ones with cabinet ministers bickering in the wings trying to unseat the leader.

There’s another lesson from John Major though – from the 1992 election – which he won.

John Major’s Government was also unpopular then, and he was facing a slick election campaign from Labour’s Prime Minister in waiting Neil Kinnock. Neil Kinnock you may remember even managed to have the celebration before he’d won the election so sure was he of the forthcoming victory

There’s so many things in that short clip that provide echos of today’s situation – the Opposition cheered by the opinion polls, sure that the Government can’t win, but not yet sure that they can – according to the polls – but brimming with confidence, and sure that the Prime Minister is a “Box Office Disaster” to use John Smith’s words.

We know what happened – Kinnock blew the election – or was it the other way round ? I actually felt that John Major won it – he did his homework, he worked hard, and although even most of the Conservative Party didn’t really believe him until the votes were counted, he successfully delivered the goods – much to my own disappointment ( “At least he’s not Margaret Thatcher !” was my dejected thought the morning after ).

So which will it be for Labour ? Major’s 1997 Meltdown, or Major’s 1992 Rope-a-Dope ?

Back last Spring, the harbingers of doom were fairly sure of the Meltdown – but since then things have changed. In council by elections for instance there’s been no big evaporation of the Labour position. Gordon Brown, has become more vociferous and successful in his spoken comments – making Cameron look a charlie in many of the recent PMQ’s for instance.

There’ve also been a few embarrassments for the Tories as well – Cameron’s handling (or lack of handling) of anti-nhs extreme right wingers in his party such as Daniel Hannan has not gone down well publicly.

The traditional Tory press for some reason, also seem to take a delight in having a side-swipe at David Cameron, even whilst trying to rally the troops : see this in the Telegraph earlier this week  David Cameron’s Tories are a one-man band that’s playing out of tune

Don’t get me wrong – I’m not saying that there aren’t still big, big difficiculties for Labour – just that the crash landing is not inevitable – we seem to have pulled out of the dive.

Admittedly Labour could have done without Hoon & Hewitt’s shennanigins regarding leadership challenges – but the episode does seem to have galvanised unity within the party  – for the time being at any rate.

So this opinion poll shows that yes there could be a hung parliament. Margins of error taken into account it probably also shows that the Tories could have a very small majority, or that their simple majority might be even smaller. When all’s said and done it’s just another poll – and they can be misleading as we know.

It does though, suggest that the total meltdown isn’t happening. Which suggests to me that Gordon Brown’s election may well be more similar to John Major’s more successful campaign in 1992 than to his disaster in 1997.

I think it’s this that the Labour faithful are taking heart with – because the poll hints at lessons from history which show that there is all to fight for in this election and that a Labour majority is by no means out of the question.

When you look at those airbrushed posters of David Cameron smugly looking out at you – who does it remind you of ? Tony Blair ? Margaret Thatcher ? No – for me it’s Neil Kinnock – having his party early – just as Cameron is.

It ain’t over ’til it’s over , and I’m Voting Labour !


January 24, 2010 - Posted by | politics | , , , , , , , , , ,


  1. Oh come on. Childish? You mean like talking about airbrushed posters and smug faces. Of course there is no complacency on the Conservative side. But when someone like Charlie Whelan writes abut a hung parliament as if its the best news for Labour in years don’t you think that deserves to be jumped on?

    Comment by Jonathan Sheppard | January 24, 2010 | Reply

    • To be honest I was thinking mainly about how you responded to comments on last nights post when I said childish – very “ya boo” IMHO. I didn’t read the Charlie Whelan piece – I will – I did notice an outbreak of joy on Twitter amongst Labour tweeters though, and thought your article was reasonably well aimed.

      Thanks for stopping by !

      Comment by northernheckler | January 24, 2010 | Reply

  2. Well, I’d like to think you’re correct and that Labour may stage a Phoenix-like return from the ashes. I personally do not want the Tories back. I was there the last time, they don’t look a lot different, in fact in some ways they look worse than before.
    Perhaps the answer is for Gordon to get on his soapbox!
    You never know…

    Comment by thevaleman | January 24, 2010 | Reply

  3. Social comments and analytics for this post…

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  4. Wish on! Here on Planet Earth we find that the voters are not at all keen on that nice Mr Brown. Oh, no.

    Perhaps, given your analysis you can explain why all the Labour MPs in marginal seats appear to be retiring? After all not all of them have been robbing the country blind, some have just stuck to voting to destroy its economy. Might their retirement just reflect – just perhaps – that they’ve given up because they know they’ve lost?

    Comment by Simon Cooke | January 24, 2010 | Reply

    • I will go on wishing. Voters are not keen on Mr Brown – yes well that’s the point of the article – they weren’t keen on John Major either – Kinnock had it in the bag, except he didn’t. Neither has Cameron.

      All the Labour MPs in marginal seats aren’t retiring, those that are do so for many reasons, who am I to guess, maybe 12 years in one job is long enough.

      You’re right of course not all of them have been robbing the country blind – leave that to the bankers, and financiers eh ? What was it they used to call them ? Capitalists ?, the kind of people the Tories seem to like. And far from destroying the economy, this Government has fought the recession by intervening to reduce the impact of the recession on the mass unemployment that would ensue if it were left to run unfettered like Margaret Thatcher did in the 80’s – the difference being that this Government cares about people – unlike most Conservatives who care only about money, and looking out for their own chosen few.

      Comment by northernheckler | January 24, 2010 | Reply

  5. That’s the first piece of footage I’ve seen from the Sheffield rally. If only I could have persuaded my parents to let me go… mind you, I was only one and would only have supported Labour if they promised me more food.

    Comment by Adam | January 24, 2010 | Reply

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  7. […] … I could look back to  my post All to fight for in the General Election « Northernheckler’s Blog on the 24th of January when Labour supporters were virtually dancing in the streets after a […]

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